The flats off Madaket and Tuckernuck Island provide excellent sight-fishing for stripers. Photo by Tom Richardson

Nantucket is sort of a lost world among Northeast fishing destinations. Things happen out there that have no bearing on the action along the mainland, and word of these events does not often filter back to the rest of the fishing community, especially since few small-boaters are able or willing to make the long run to ACK.

The famous “Bonito Bar” off Smiths Point typically attracts a crowd of anglers who fish for the hard-fighting—and good-eating—“bones…”

Stripers and bluefish are the top draw for inshore fishermen from May through October, and  there a variety of places to find both species. Boat fishermen can sight-cast for stripers up to 40 pounds on the sand flats behind Tuckernuck Island, west of Madaket, but a shallow-draft boat is required for this pursuit. The turbulent waters of Great Point Rip, Old Man Rip, Bass Rip and Miacomet Rip can produce awesome casting and trolling action for big stripers, as well as bluefish, throughout the season. You’ll often see both species holding in the first wave of the ripcline, waiting for baitfish and squid to wash past. Toss them a pencil popper and you are in for a show. If the fish are holding deep, break out a parachute jig and troll it on 150′ to 200′ of wire line, depending on water depth. The rocky bottom off Sankaty Light is a good spot to troll wire line for bass and blues all summer.

Bluefish can be trolled up throughout the summer and early fall anywhere along the 40′ contour line that runs from Nantucket Harbor to Great Point. A Rapala CD-16, Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow, Bomber Long-A or similar swimming plug trolled at around 4 knots should do the trick. Keep an eye out for packs of surface-cruising blues as you troll along, and be ready to throw them a popper.

The famous “Bonito Bar” (not its official name) off Smiths Point typically attracts a crowd of anglers who fish for the hard-fighting—and good-eating—“bones” starting in August and running through mid-October. The drill here is to anchor on the ocean side of the bar and blind-cast or wait for a school to pop up within range. Running-and-gunning is definitely frowned upon. The Bonito Bar also holds big stripers and blues. Many anglers anchor above the bar and fish chunk baits on the bottom for stripers while waiting for bonito to pop up within casting range.

Fluke are another popular recreational species, and the sand shoals and channels surrounding the island hold some real whoppers. Set up a slow drift over uneven bottom then send down a jig sweetened with a squid strip, fish-belly strip or small live bait.

Bait & Tackle


License Requirements

A Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permit is required to fish the marine waters of Massachusetts out to 3 miles from shore. Cost is $10 for both residents and non-residents. The permit expires on December 31.


No permit is required for the following individuals:

  • Persons under 16 years of age.
  • Persons fishing on a charter or partyboat.
  • Persons who possess a saltwater fishing license from Connecticut, Rhode Island or New Hampshire.
  • Persons who, regardless of age, otherwise meet the definition of a disabled person.
  • The permit fee is waived for anglers 60 and older; however, these individuals must still register with the state. A small fee will be charged by the vendor to process the permit if purchased online.

For more information:

Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries: Permits

To purchase a license online:

Mass Fish Hunt License System

Seasons, Catch & Size Limits

For a current list of fishing regulations, by species